UGANDA SEX WORKERS DEMAND FREE AND QUALITY CONDOMS

WONETHA staff demonstratin proper condom dressing

WONETHA staff demonstrating proper condom dressing

Ugandan sex workers have insisted that they prefer the Government continue to distribute free condoms.

Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA), an organisation that was founded, managed and led by sex workers in 5 districts of Uganda have said that as promoters of condom use, availability of free condoms is one way of fighting HIV/AIDS.

“Condoms should be available free of charge like drugs. A man cannot give you Ush1000 especially law income earner and you chase them away or use some of that money to buy a condom. You cannot tell him to buy a condom either!,”  If we are looking forward to ending AIDS we MUST provide free quality condoms to those who need them. Daisy Nakaato, the executive director WONETHA said.

These revelations were made during the Condom Communication Coordination meeting that was held at Protea Hotel recently. During the meeting, some partners raised a complaint on why Ugandans don`t use condoms.

Feedback from the Condom Unit in the Ministry of Health suggests that Ugandans prefer that they improve the quality of the condoms that are distributed free of charge.

As a result, people have rejected the poor quality condoms that the Government distributes for free.

The Condom Unit however says improving the quality of the free condoms would have a cost implication.

Some partners in the fight against HIV however prefer that the quality be improved but at a small cost to the user.

After the previous meeting on condom communication coordination which was held at Ministry of Health, challenges like condoms bursting, unavailability of condoms in some places and condoms not reaching the end users.

After this meeting, it was agreed that another meeting where implementing partners share how the y do outreaches on condom promotion and the challenges they get.

Some partners like Mariestopes Uganda, Pace, Uganda Health Marketing Group (UHMG) and the National Condom Coordinator advised that it is better to promote condom buying than giving them out freely because Ugandans think that free condoms are of poor quality.

The partners say they have consulted with different people willing to buy condoms.

The purpose of the meeting was to develop and agree on condom promotion in Uganda in collaboration with ministry of health and partners in behavioral communication change.

WONETHA promotes and encourage safer sex practices among sex workers most especially among those in slums areas who cannot afford to buy condoms.

WONETHA has called on the Government of Uganda partners to support us advocate for condoms which are free, affordable, and accessible and of good quality to end new HIV infections and transmission.

Teenage girls join sex work in Mukono

Teenage Girls from Mukono’s landing sites are joining sex work largely driven into the practice by poverty.

The underage girls have been influenced into the practice by poverty whereby parents use them as a source of generating incomes for their homes.

Most of the girls come to the landing sites to work as bar maids, house maids but the pay is not enough or they are not paid at all, which leads them into this sexual exploitation. The affected landing sites are Kalyambuzi, Damba and Kisonga.

A health worker from Mukono Dispensary made the revelation at a health stakeholders’ meeting that was held at the Mukono district headquarters.

33 participants attended the meeting including a representative from the DHO’s office, District HIV focal person, Health providers from different health centers, in-charges from different facilities within Mukono and MARPI representative.

Other participants who attended included WONETHA staff, peer educators lodge owners from Mukono and Local Council leaders.

The problem of underage sex workers worries health workers because these girls cannot negotiate for safer sex.

The health workers have urged WONETHA to find ways of helping the underage sex workers in Mukono by reaching out to them and finding organizations that can be of support the young girls until they become of age.

Health workers also promised to organize HIV Counseling and Testing services for all the landing sites in Mukono district.

WONETHA operates in five districts of Uganda namely; Kampala, Wakiso, Mukono, Buikwe and Mpigi and among its programs; one of the is organizing meetings with health stakeholders at the district level to improve the quality and access to HIV prevention, treatment, care and support services for sex workers.

WONETHA calls upon Government and other partners to put in place policy and other programs that will help prevent underage girls from joining sex work.